Great Outdoors Friday, July 8th Words by: Mark Bowen, pictures by: Mark Bowen

Sponsored: Make summer go with a swing @ The Weir Gardens

Great Outdoors Friday, July 8th

Sponsored: Make summer go with a swing @ The Weir Gardens

The Weir Gardens is one visitor attraction that is guaranteed to put a spring into your step this summer.

The National Trust property at Swainshill, to the west of Hereford, offers two outstanding gardens that will certainly satisfy those with contrasting tastes.

The Weir Gardens cover 10 acres and was the creation of its previous owner Roger Parr and his head gardener William Boulter.

The lovingly cared for Walled Garden provides a chance to enjoy displays of flowers, fruit and vegetables with the bonus of being a fantastic sun trap in summer.

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While the expansive and natural Woodland Garden offers riverside walks and amazing views to make a summer’s day go with a swing.

The Woodland Garden is the sort of place you feel you have been to before even if you have never set foot there - and it’s one which you cannot wait to return to providing a sanctuary any time of year.

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You can explore the garden from several different levels. Take a riverside walk if you want to listen to the gentle noises of the river or take the higher route which offers a viewing bridge where you can see the looping River Wye from both angles – just as its creators envisaged.

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The informal garden is thriving with wildness and you have the chance to see bees, butterflies, and dragonflies as nature intended, and wild flowers fluttering in the breeze along the river bank.

If you are lucky you might spy a squirrel searching for food in the undergrowth or catch a glimpse of a swan swimming serenely.

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You will walk past a rustic hut that was used to view the river in the past and a boat house which is one of the oldest ones standing on the River Wye.

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You also get the chance to see some interesting trees (a Tulip Tree is present here, for instance) and a huge range of plants that are sure to fascinate those with an interest in natural history.

You can take your time reading the slate signs located around the garden providing details about what you’re looking at.

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The ruins of a Roman temple, possibly associated with a villa which may have connections to the nearby Roman town of Magnis, lie inside the Woodland Garden. There is an octagonal cistern filled by a spring, and a ruined buttress near the river.

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Suddenly when walking around the garden you come to the rockery where deep reds dominate among an abundance of colours. This is the perfect place to catch your breath and take a closer look at the flowers in tranquil surroundings.

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A longer stroll will take you to a meadow where visitors can grab a deckchair, sit down and relax. This is the perfect place to enjoy views of the river and you might even catch a glimpse of a canoeists making their way up the River Wye. It all makes you realise we spend too much time rushing about. Take a book, some refreshments and a desire not to be disturbed.

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Next to the meadow is a natural play area where children can spot a giant a spider high up in the trees and have fun on a swing. It’s enough to make you want to be a youngster again.

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Close by is an area that becomes a rookery in spring time with six to eight weeks of pure noise from around 100 nests. In summer though the spot is an oasis of peace and quiet.

A short walk from the entrance of the Woodland Garden will take you to the delights of the Walled Garden.

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The views from the three-sided red brick walled garden on a pleasant day are fantastic including those of the River Wye.

The garden itself has been fully restored. Once you could not have walked through here as it had been out of use for a decade but now you find perfectly maintained flower and vegetable gardens.

You can meander around the reinstalled pathways which are laid out exactly how they were in the past.

There is also a large once derelict greenhouse to explore which has been fully restored. During late summer you can see it filled with the fruits of harvest.

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Outside there is a young gardeners plot where youngsters are encouraged to get involved in the great outdoors , get muddy, plant seeds and seek out bugs.

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Visitors love seeing how the garden changes year by year. It’s certainly worth visiting a couple of times throughout the year to see the changes of the seasons.

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The Weir Gardens is well sign posted just off the A438, five miles west of Hereford. There is a refreshment tent on site where you can make yourself a hot drink and pay via an honesty box.

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